07 Jun Texas Legislature Whiffs On Paid Sick Leave Bill SB 15
A number of prominent Texas lawmakers in alliance with members of the business community fell short in their efforts to counter paid sick leave policies which had been adopted by several cities, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas. The Legislature closed the doors on its 86th regular session on May 27th.
Those cities have adopted similar ordinances which require private businesses to offer employees a certain number of paid sick days.
In 2018, the State of Texas and a number of business groups and business owners persuaded the court to put a temporary injunction on the Austin ordinance which was later iced when an appeals court deemed it unconstitutional. The City of Austin is appealing that decision by the appellate court; the Texas Supreme Court has been asked to rule on the issue. That decision is not expected until later this summer.
In the absence of a statewide policy being set by the Legislature, the only real recourse for the business community appears to be the courts, a recourse that can be expensive and slow to finally conclude.
Sen. Brandon Creighton of Conroe, leading advocate of efforts to overturn the local ordinances, agreed. “The only hope now is that the courts reverse these costly and burdensome regulations, and restore the predictability and common-sense policies Texas business needs to thrive.”
Creighton’s Senate Bill 15 would have created a framework for all employment laws across Texas, including specifying that cities and local governments could not determine some benefit practices or how businesses schedule employees’ shifts. Paid Sick Leave Bill SB 15 got ensnared in a legislative briar patch that threatened its passage so Creighton then filed and got passed four smaller bills which duplicated different parts of SB 15. At this point, the clock had become the life or death influence on all bills and none of Creighton’s package made it onto the House calendar in time to be considered.
Annie Spilman, legislative director for the National Federation of Independent Business said she was confident the courts would ultimately rule for business’ side of the issue.
“That’s our only alternative since the Legislature failed to act,” Ms. Spilman said. This really was not a good session for the business community.”